Free On KU

Free On KU

Free On KU

Free On KU

Free On KU
Free On KU

Captive Hearts by Natasha West


This book has Natasha West taking baby steps out of her comfort zone with excellent results.

Ashley Quick is a TV reporter with an ambition to do investigative stories for the biggest channels. But she is stuck in a small-time local channel for three years with little hope and possibility of making a big jump. Intense and Type A, she is rather bereft of social filters and emotional niceties. She knows her personality failings and also realises that they are stopping her from realising her ambition. But she is who she is. No camera operator lasts with her because of her rather abrasive behaviour. When the latest camera o quits, her boss reaches out to Gina Tucker, a totally chill and laid back cam op who just happens to be in-between jobs. Regular pay, and good pay at that, makes Gina agree to work with the reporter no one else is willing to work with.

Off on their first story -- a thrilling bring-and-buy sale in the local church -- Ashley catches hint of a real story happening somewhere in town. She manages to convince Gina and they rush away from the church to a closed pizza place with police cars standing in front of it. When she tries to find out what's happening, she's brusquely shooed away. But Ashley is not faint hearted and hangs around long enough to find out that there's a hostage situation inside. She's excited. Being the only news people around, this could well become her big break into national television. But that hope doesn't last too long as the police cordon off the area and the two are sent packing away beyond the cordon.

After hanging around a while, when it seems that there is no possibility of getting a piece of the action, Ashley is about to do her concluding piece to camera when things change. The police come to them and say that the man holding hostages is willing to release one but only if the news people are around and will interview him. 

But things change entirely again when instead of an interview, the perpetrator releases one hostage but takes Ashley and Gina as hostages.

Unwittingly, Ashley becomes the point of contact with the police and finds herself handling the borderline crazy man trying to get more and more hostages released.

While West is undoubtedly good at romcom, in this one she creates an unusual circumstance which she spices up with her fun dialogues and whimsical characters, but is at heart a more serious and layered book than usual.

Ashley and Gina are appealing right from the start. Despite her single-minded ambition and social ineptitude, there is something heartrendingly fragile and delicate about Ashley. Gina is the perfect support for her. 

Initially both find the other attractive but there's no common ground between them. Their relationship really develops in the heightened intensity of the situation. The surreal circumstance also speeds up revelations and observations about each other's true characters which makes the fact that they choose each other completely convincing despite the short period that they've known each other.

The villain is rather an over the top caricaturish character but that helps is keeping the story light enough. There is a whole cast of people and West's talent shows in the fact she manages to create personalities for most of them in their very brief appearances. 

The fast moving, easy-to-read book is still in the realm of romcom but a few inches closer to the serious fiction line than most of West's books and thoroughly entertains.


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